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Men’s Lacrosse: Still perfect

Megan Golden | Friday, April 1, 2011

As the No. 2 Irish enter the second half of the regular season, they are focusing on winning one game at a time, starting with a victory over No. 8 Villanova Saturday.

Big East offensive player of the week Sean Rogers will lead the Irish (6-0) in pursuit of this goal. The junior attack recorded four goals and three assists in his past two games against Ohio State (5-4) and Rutgers (5-3), and credited his teammates for his success.

“All my individual success comes from my teammates getting me in the right spots and getting me the ball. As far as my goals, all of the credit goes to [my teammates] — most of my goals are assisted,” Rogers said. “In the last two games, we knew what to look for, and guys did a great job cutting and finishing all the feeds I gave them. I did well, but obviously my teammates were a big part of my success.”

The Irish are coming off what coach Kevin Corrigan called their “most complete game of the season,” which was played against Rutgers Sunday. Rogers said the team has been working on putting together more efficient possessions in preparation for the Wildcats (7-2).

“We definitely want to control [the ball] and have smart and sustained possessions,” he said. “We don’t want to make it easy for their defense by taking shots away. The key for us is to get good looks and take advantage of all the good looks we get.”

Notre Dame hopes its defensive game will carry over from the Rutgers matchup. Irish sophomore goalie John Kemp said he notices a difference in the Irish defensemen when they play their best defense. Kemp said the Irish need to communicate even more while defending their own goal against the Wildcats.

“Communication has definitely gotten better, and also [it helps] just that we’re getting further into the season. Playing together, you get used to how everyone talks, and being together almost all the time on the field really helps us prepare for other people. Familiarity with everyone is kind of what’s helping us,” Kemp said. “Communication on defense and helping each other out will help out the team against Villanova.”

Villanova (7-2) will travel to South Bend fresh off its second loss of the season, a 5-4 defeat Saturday from No. 1-ranked Syracuse. Wildcat senior defenseman Brian Karalunas was already been named Big East defensive player of the week earlier this season.

“Offensively, they have basically six attacks who can play at all times. They don’t run any particular sets — they’re more free flowing, hard to guard and dangerous,” Rogers said. “They have one of the best defensive players in our league in Brian Karalunas. He gets the ball multiple times in the game, and the rest of the defense is very aggressive.”

Kemp said he agreed the Wildcats have a lot of depth on their roster.

“Villanova is kind of a team that, I don’t want to say doesn’t have a lot of talent, but has good players who play well together,” he said. “We’ve started preparing for what they do and how they run their offense, and they don’t really have one guy who can do it all. They all work together. They have a lot of guys who can put it in the net. They’re a good all-around team.”

Although the Irish remain undefeated and recently moved up in the rankings, the team remains humble and is not getting too comfortable with its record just yet.

“You want to have confidence, and you get it from beating other teams. That’s the mentality you want to have,” Kemp said. “You don’t want to be too confident, though. With a high ranking it’s easy to kind of forget the other talent that’s out there. You don’t want to overlook teams on your schedule, especially going into league play. We take everything week by week.”

Now that the Irish are halfway through their season, Corrigan continues to emphasize the goal the Irish made at the beginning of the season — to win a national championship, Kemp said.

“The latter part of our schedule is tougher, and getting into Big East play and [doing well] will jumpstart us going into the postseason,” Kemp said. “[Coach said], ‘Keep it up and play hard,’ and he knows that we’ll just keep doing it.”

The Irish will look for their seventh win when face off against Villanova Saturday at 1 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.